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The Cultural Aspect of Raising Pet Dogs in San Pedro

By Angel Nuñez
The ongoing problem with dogs on Ambergris Caye will not have an easy nor quick solution because owning pet dogs and how you deal with them is cultural. I will not even attempt to try to offer the solution (not in this column) but simply attempt to show you how different cultures deal with pet dogs so that you might at least understand the problem.

First of all there are some cultures that allow their dogs to lie on the sofa and sleep on their beds, so much that they consider their dogs as children in the family. That is not the case with most Belizeans.  To most Sanpedranos a dog is just a dog, and even though they love their pets, and do pamper them by giving them all the necessary comforts, it is still just a dog.  

Twenty five years ago our parents would never allow a dog to lick our faces.  They rightly pointed out that a dog licks all parts of its body, if you know what I mean, so they rightly taught us that such a practice was gross.  

Controlling the dog population 25 years ago took many forms. Stray dogs have always been a problem.  It was not their overturning of garbage bins or their excrement on the streets that was the main complaint.  It was their vicious attack and bites on humans.  Therefore, whenever the stray dogs became too rampant, the village chairman would call on government to implement an unannounced dog eradication campaign.  Personnel from the Ministry of Health simply came over and poisoned all dogs on the streets hoping to kill only the annoying stray dogs. However, the use of leashes was unheard of 25 years ago, so a few dogs with owners did happen to be poisoned too because they happened to be on the streets during the process.  Yes, a few owners lamented but could not complain because there was no one to complain to. The health officers were long gone.  What I do know is that some people actually did express their appreciation to the village chairman.    

Back then there was no animal hospital but there were a few conscious individuals who did try to control the dog population.  They did so by using a razor blade and removing the dog’s testicles.  Why were ashes used to help heal the surgery, I don’t know and I have always been curious.  Bush doctors only performed neutering or castration of dogs; spaying was a bit more complicated for them.

Now there was something that did annoy Sanpedranos when it came to dogs 25 years ago. This occurred when a circus came to Belize City and they used to buy stray dogs to feed their lions and other carnivores.  We in San Pedro thought that was very inhumane because we thought that the dogs were thrown in alive into the lion’s cage.  

So do you see why I say dealing with dogs is cultural?  Different people just have another way of doing things.  I would not allow a dog to lick my mouth.  Now while I would fight with someone for abusing a child, I would not fight with someone due to a misunderstanding with a dog, much less pull a gun at someone. In other words, I am from 25 years ago.

25 Years Ago Books Can Be Purchased At:
-Ambergris Today -Lala’s Store -Chico’s Meat Shop -Pampered Paws -Ambergris Jade -San Pedro BTB Office -Aquarius Salon (Kim) -S.P. Town Library -Di Bush –Richie’s Stationery -San Pedrano’s Stationery -Rum, Coffee & Cigar House
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